Gala Hispanic Theatre

3301 14th Street NW,
Washington, DC 20010

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Gala Hispanic Theatre

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One of the grand old palaces of Washington, DC, the Tivoli Theatre was opened in 1924 with over 2,000 seats. It was operated by Warner Bros. Theatres from 1928. Operated by District Theaters chain from 1965, it was closed and boarded up in 1976, and was almost saved by a group of local supporters during the late-1970’s.

After over 25 years closure, the Tivoli Theatre has benefited from a revitalization of the Columbia Heights neighborhood that’s now underway

Now reopened in January 2005 as the Gala Hispanic Theatre, a small stage theatre in the former Tivoli Theatre’s balcony, and mixed retail use in the rest of the building.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

rlvjr on August 17, 2005 at 12:10 pm

The TIVOLI was without question the grandest and most beautiful neighborhood theatre that ever existed in Washington, DC. With marble lobby, both mezzanine and balcony, orchestra pit, full stage, drapery you could not afford today, and rest rooms bigger than many multiplex auditoriums —– a dazzler. The problem was the location. This once prime neighborhood was increasingly deteriorating into crime-ridden slums. This was capped with the Martin Luther King riots and looting —– with 14th & Park Road near the epicenter of the uncontrolled arson and looting. After Stanley Warner’s gave up on the TIVOLI it operated as a bargain theatre aimed at the black audience; but to no avail. The crime was too severe, and big theaters have crime issues others don’t. For example, the oversized basement rest rooms were perfect for attacking patrons in a time and place where law enforecment was considered old-hat. In the longrun, the neighborhood has seen a revitalization which is hard to believe. Homes that used to be hard core slums totally renovated into housing most folks can’t afford.
As to the renovation of the TIVOLI, I say What good is it? I fondly remember seeing about 100 movies in the old TIVOLI. But there is not any “New” TIVOLI. No, it’s just a staging area for video stores, a drug store, et cetera. A 250 seat Hispanic theater in the former balcony? That’s nice, but so what? The TIVOLI now has a nice entrance, facade, lobby —– BUT NO THEATER! It’s pointless.

CFaber on November 7, 2005 at 5:36 am

My grandmother, Mabelle Bowers Thickstun, played the organ for silent movies at the Tivoli in its early days. My father, William R. Thickstun, used to reminisce about sitting next to her on the bench and watching the movies. He remembered the first sound film was not “The Jazz Singer,” but “The Sneeze”.

GSenda on May 12, 2006 at 4:09 am

I have been trying to remember just where this theatre was for years.

In the 50s, I saw House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts, The Tingler there.

All of the above were with the full William Castle props and hoopla including a nurse in the lobby and an ambulance standing by outside.

Not too far away on the other side of 16th Street (towards Conneticut Avenue) was a theatre where I saw South Pacific. On the way to that theatre was one which played Mary Poppins.

About a block away was a 24 hour newstand and a White Tower Hamburger stand.

We moved out of Washington in early 1965 so we did not see the 1965 riots. Though the area was near Georgia Avenue and a lot of buildings were torched.

Out on Connecticut Avenue near the zoo was a theatre which showed Cinerama movies. I saw one or 2 there ( I think it may have been How The West Was Won).

Downtown near the White House was a theatre that played Goldfinger. I was awed by the picture of a two-block long Shirley Eaton and the huge Goldfinger sign.

I also recall the row of strip clubs and theatres near the FBI building and one theatre near the Greyhound Station were we saw the movie Pepe with Cantinflas.

George Senda
Concord, Ca

EcRocker on January 28, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Wow Lost I must have passed by there at least a few dozen times and I never knew it was there.

JackCoursey on February 4, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Here are 2008 photos of what remains of the Tivoli: 1, 2, 3

cher on April 21, 2009 at 7:23 am

Does anyone who attended Saturday matinees at the Tivoli in the late 1950s/early 1960s remember the prices of a bag of popcorn and a soda? Thanks!

tluzeckyj on May 29, 2009 at 2:42 pm

has anyone seen any photos of the interior of the theatre depicting the Battisi mural painting that are currently undergoing full restoration?

teecee on November 13, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Drove by on Wednesday. The area has a lot of new construction and appears to be prospering as much as is possible in this economy.

LuisV on September 21, 2010 at 9:58 am

Why are there no interior photos on their website? Was the interior destroyed? If not, why is it not celebrated and shown on their website?

I am searching Washington DC theaters as a possible wedding venue but am frustrated by the lack of interior photos fro this theater which, to me, implies that the interior is generic.

MediaQueen on May 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Great renovation job on what I used see on a daily basis when I lived on Monroe street NW in the mid to late 90s. It was a neglected relic. I remember seeing stray dogs and rats come out of it.

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